Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

‘Blame Obama’ narrative is tiresome

Rob Rudloff/Flickr
Rob Rudloff/Flickr

Since President Barack Obama first took office in January 2009, one source or another has blamed almost every problem in government, the economy and foreign policy on him. It was the motivation of the opposition to make Obama a “one-term president,” and they continue to act that way almost one year into Obama’s second term.

The troubled rollout of is the latest example of this phenomenon. Both in the media and public opinion, Obama receives inordinate blame for the crashing website and incongruence of data sent to health providers. Yes, did not work as expected on Oct. 1. Obama immediately apologized for the affair and took all of the blame.

As the chief executive, he is ultimately culpable for the actions of the executive branch, but the ferocity of the blame game played by Republicans is disturbing.

Let us go back to Mitch McConnell’s statements in 2010 and 2011. After the 2010 election, he told the National Journal that “the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

Less than a year later, on CNN, he said, “Their story line is that there must be some villain out there who’s keeping this administration from succeeding.”

There is a villain in American politics today, and it is the Republican Party. While the dominant right-wing narrative blames President Obama for all of the ills befalling the United States, in fact, many of the economic issues and political concerns stem from conservative political and policy priorities.

The major political issue since 2010 has been the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known colloquially as Obamacare. The law implements an individual mandate for health insurance, an expansion of Medicaid, high-quality conditions for individual health plans and assorted other provisions. Instead of working in good faith to compromise or reform the ACA, the House GOP has attempted to repeal the act 47 times. Luckily, with insurance plans set to go into effect on Jan. 1, any future repeal attempt will be an attempt to take away health insurance, not an attempt to eliminate an abstract concept.

Somehow, according to the conservative narrative, Obama and the ACA are singularly responsible for slow economic growth and stubbornly high unemployment. However, it is essential to note that Republican lawmakers and Congressional leadership are the main actors that have opposed legislation designed to boost growth and employment. Republican opposition to raising the debt ceiling and the ACA reduced job growth in 2011, caused the fiscal cliff crisis in late 2012 and shut down the government for the better part of a month in October 2013, which only reopened after Republicans backed down from demands to repeal the ACA.

In the latest instance of government-through-crisis, the Republicans received much more blame than the Democrats did. According to a Washington Post/ABC poll taken immediately after the government re-opened, “the party’s image sunk to an all-time low.” Only 32 percent of the public had a favorable view of the GOP, compared to 63 percent who did not. That same poll showed that only a quarter of people have a favorable view of the Tea Party.

This year, the GOP has stalled Congressional progress on both the farm bill renewal and comprehensive immigration reform.

While negotiations continue on the farm bill, the House GOP has been unable to pass the bill because of proposed cuts to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps. Senate Democrats want $4 billion in cuts over the next 10 years compared to $40 billion from House Republicans. If a new farm bill does not pass, milk pricing would revert to a 1949 formula, increasing costs by as much as $3 per gallon.

Comprehensive immigration reform has been a goal of both the Bush and Obama administrations, Congressional Republicans and Congressional Democrats over the past 10 years, but the current proposal has little chance of passage. While senators from both parties have passed a comprehensive bill, House Speaker Boehner (R-OH) wants to pass piecemeal legislation, such as increased border restrictions. At a mid-November press conference, Boehner rejected the notion that piecemeal legislation could be blended into the comprehensive bill and brought to a vote. Even though the U.S. desperately needs immigration reform, the GOP continues to block it in the House.

Since taking office in January, this Congress has only passed 52 laws. This is the lowest since the 104th Congress took office in 1995, when it passed 88 laws during its first year. According to the Washington Post, with only 11 days left in session this year, it is likely that this Congress will have the least productive year of any Congress since World War II. This lack of productivity is not the fault of Democrats and is certainly not the fault of Obama.

Before Republicans start pointing fingers and assigning blame to Obama, they need to think critically and ask the question: “who really is at fault?” Most likely, the fault lies not with Obama, but with themselves.

Zac Bears is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected].

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  • P

    PodubbneyDec 16, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    For those that unfaillingly support this President without criticism (like this columnist), why is it OK with you that the President appears incapable of telling the truth, and lies about virtually everything, whether it be matters of supreme importance to the citizenry (whether one can keep their insurance plan and preferred MD), to common trivialities (whether he lived with his Uncle Omar)? Also, I disagree that passing less laws automaticaly equates to this Congress being “less productive”. Please provide your supporting evidence

  • A

    ArafatDec 16, 2013 at 11:25 am

    Obama blames everything on Bush, Ted Cruz or his cabinet (when the heat gets too close to him).

    Nice to know he’s a man of higher moral stature who follows the practice of “The buck stops not here”.

    He’s been the most ineffectual president in decades and if not for the leftist media he’d have been impeached by now.

  • B

    Brandon SidesDec 7, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    Zac, I think the Republican “blame Obama” game is a lost cause, as you imply, but it might be fun to examine the liberal “blame Obama” game in a future op/ed.
    Obama criticized the Bush administration’s restrictions on the press back in the 2008 run, but CPJ just released a troubling report on Obama’s administration. It reveals the executive office under Obama’s control to be tougher than under any other President. I don’t think Republicans were opposing any effort of his to improve the state of journalism, so it looks like at least one of his failures is independent of a stagnant congress. It might be worth looking into similar criticisms that come from the left.

  • J

    jwDec 6, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    what a surprise criticism “tiresome” when it’s directed at a traitorous leftist dictator.

  • J

    jwDec 6, 2013 at 4:57 pm